PDF Touch: Easy PDF markup app for Windows 8 (review)

PDF Touch: Easy PDF markup app for Windows 8 (review)

Summary: Tablets are perfect for working with PDF documents; this app for Windows 8 is a simple but capable way to do it.

PDF Touch logo

I have been using tablets for over a decade and one of the most useful activities has been marking up PDF documents with the pen. It's a great collaborative tool with the ability to ink notes right on top of a colleague's PDF document. It's also a great way to sign contracts sent in PDF format. 

I love having a pen with my ThinkPad Tablet 2 and one of the reasons is the PDF Touch app available in the Microsoft Store. This Metro app takes full advantage of Windows 8 running on the tablet with a good interface that fully leverages manipulation by either touch or the pen.

See related: ThinkPad Tablet 2: Best Windows tablet | ThinkPad Tablet 2: First look | ThinkPad Tablet 2: Inking in Windows 8 | ThinkPad Tablet 2: First impressions

Any PDF can be opened in PDF Touch for either review or editing. Once the document is opened it can be zoomed with the standard pinch/zoom gesture which is very handy.

The app is not a comprehensive editor and publishing system like some Windows legacy apps, but what it does it does very well. There are simple editing features like Draw, which supports marking up anywhere on the PDF document. It works very well with the pen and offers several different colors. Interestingly, the developers also support marking by fingertip or a mouse.

PDF Touch screen 2
Example PDF markup

The Highlight tool works as expected, highlighting text by dragging the finger/cursor/pen over it. It also supports highlighting in several colors.

Other tools that PDF Touch supports is the Line and Rectangle features, which is exactly what it sounds like. You can add precise lines and rectangles with perfectly straight edges.

Once you select a tool such as Draw, a small menu appears in the upper right of the screen that offers simple settings such as pen width. They are touch optimized and can be easily worked with the finger.

PDF Touch is a great app for everyone, professionals and students in particular. It's an easy way to mark PDF documents with full touch support, making it perfect for indicating desired changes from colleagues. For a little fun you can print an email to PDF format, mark it up in PDF Touch, and then email it back to the sender. They'll go crazy trying to figure out how you wrote on their email.

A nice thing about PDF Touch is the price, which is only $2.99 in the Microsoft Store. It is easily worth that, in fact it probably paid for itself within five minutes of use for me.

Price: $2.99

Purchase: From the Microsoft Store

Topics: Mobility, Reviews, Tablets, Windows 8

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  • Agree

    At $2.99, and a Metro app, a no-brainer for its annotating ability.
    • PDF Touch

      That program is abysmal, though it's better than Microsoft Reader

      I have been looking for a decent Metro PDF annotator since I started using Windows 8 & RT to no avail. Foxit PDF is slightly better (faster, more fluid) but less featured

      All of them are however light years behind annotators in other platforms. I used ezPDF in Android and it's outstanding. Friend with iPads also showed me there great programs. The page of ezPDF says a Windows 8 version is coming soon since Windows 8 launched, but nothing so far. After terrible performance by MS with Surface RT and the other vendors I am not holding my breath

      I think that probably FoxIt will improve their annotator before anyone else, but we are talking here of MONTHS
    • Excellent value for money

      Dear James! Glad to finally write a comment. I've been following your posts for a long time (while you were on the run). I am going to try this app. I have used previous "PDF Annotator" versions and I was quite happy with them. But with the new Windows 8 versión PDF Annotator has lost great interest. You cannot use multi-touch and stylus simultaneously (you need to previously de-actívate one option and turn on the other one). Scrolling is not inertial (sorry guys, Apple here set the standard and every scroll without inertia seems sluggish). And all that for circa $60!

      Grahl says that it is all Windows 8 fault, because Microsoft has changed the way the OS deals with ink. But, in 2 years time (W8 was released in 2012, I believe), no change has been made. I believe that true creativity and desire to innovate has left traditional software companies and moved to apps. Not even Adobe is capable of providing a good inking solution...


  • What a RIP OFF

    You think it was designed by Adobe from this Article? Its not its a RIP OFF; and its unavailable because ADOBE probably sued SANSEET!!!
    • which part of the article made you think it's made by Adobe?

      last time I checked PDF was an open standard, so why would adobe sue the maker of this app?
  • So basic it's a joke. A markup tool with no text tool?

    I've had this app for a while. Yes you can mark it okay with a stylus, but if you only have a finger, it's pretty kludgy. Also on my Sony Duo 11 the line drawing has super aggressive auto-smoothing that makes it a bit harder to write clearly, and I can't dot an i without having to make a big circle or something. There's no eraser tool, and the undo vanishes once you finish a markup. In line drawing mode it doesn't recognize multi touch so you can't zoom or move around while marking up. More often I want to add typed text like to a form or something: no text tool at all! For a markup app - fail. I pretty much just use Adobe Reader.

    Sorry, but this is typical of why Windows 8 as a tablet platform is stuck in the mud. There are very few truly good apps, so very little competition, thus people fawn over anything when someone throws them a bone and actually releases an app for the platform. No matter how crummy it is. Compare with Adobe Reader on Android tablets, robust, markup with lines or text, strikeout existing text, highlight. Also free. Or the free iAnnotate which is not the be-all, but better than this (like it has tabs for opening multiple docs). And there are a lot of others paid/free.
    • So Tired of This Kind of Reaction

      1. Your favored iPad didn't even permit APPLICATIONS the first six months of life - web apps only
      2. It took another YEAR, without any competition, to start to fill out their catalog

      So give Windows 8 a rest already and let it mature instead od complaining and whining all the time about what it doesn't have and what a piece of crap this or that is...with a styus, PDF Touch is a pretty good program for that paltry $2.99
  • Also, Foxit

    Foxit Reader is pretty great on Android. I just saw they have a Metro app. Pretty lousy compared to the Android v. Again, typical . . . no one is putting much effort into Metro apps.
  • This is a pretty good tool for editing and

    marking up pdfs. I've been using is ever since I got my widows 8 tablets. It works quite well for marking up lecture notes and such as well. If you were an early adopter it was also free, but it's well worth the $2.99 anyway.
    Sam Wagner
    • I should not that

      If you don't have a tablet with a stylus this app is not for you.
      Sam Wagner
  • Features I'm looking for

    I work in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs and just purchased a Thinkpad Yoga; my first touch screen device that is larger than a smart phone. The pen / stylus is aweseome. The features I would like in a PDF reader are as follows:

    - highlighting, and ability to automatically copy those highlights into a note
    - marking up a PDF

    I bought this computer so I could take notes during presentations when PDFs are provided beforehand. I want to be able to highlight important content and mark it up using the stylus.

    I currently use Acrobat 9 in Windows 7 to read public regulatory documents. For documents, I only highlight, not markup. I highlight in Acrobat 9 and have the Preferences set to automatically copy it to a note. Then I have Javascript that exports the notes to a text file. When I finish reading, I copy the text file contents to Evernote and add the highlighted PDF file as an attachment. So if I'm searching, I can find the important text without having to open the PDF.

    Because I have so much to read, I often send the PDF files to my Kindle. In that case, I highlight in Kindle. Then when I finish, I open up the PDF in Acrobat 9 on my computer, and re-highlight each section and then do what I did above. Similarly, if I read it using the Acrobat on my Android phone, I just go back later which is extra time. I've also tried Skitch for Android with Evernote and then likewise, go back later and highlight the PDF in Acrobat. Skitch for Windows doesn't allow marking up of PDF yet. I've tried ezPDF and Foxit, and given them feedback, but there doesn't seem to be an easy way to export highlighted text. I have not explored PDF Touch which I think costs.

    I would love for these features to be available so I don't have to go back to my Windows 7 computer to make up for deficiencies in the Windows 8 one.